Originally Published: July 19, 2011, on EGMNOW.com

Game Name: Bastion

By: Ray Carsillo

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: XBLA

The Good: Old school RPG dungeon crawl feel with new stylized design twists to keep it fresh
The Bad: “Quests” can become repetitive
The Ugly: The game is more linear than most RPG fans may like

Most gamers nowadays don’t have the time to devote to a 40-hour dungeon crawl like Dragon Age. Well, those gamers out there who have been looking for a more casual dungeon crawl may finally have the answer they’ve been looking for with the first entry into this year’s Xbox Summer of Arcade: Bastion.

Bastion is a real-time combat RPG with a top down hack ‘n’ slash-style flare reminiscent of Gauntlet Legends. You play as “The Kid”, a young adult who has seen his share of hardship and finds himself as one of the last living beings in his world after a great calamity has wiped out all he’s known and loved. Planning for such an event, his people built the great Bastion that was to serve as a protective meeting place should the need arise, but even that is in shambles and must be rebuilt by “The Kid” and other survivors.

Bastion succeeds in finding a balance between keeping the action quick and simple, but also providing an engaging enough story to make you feel you should have a vested interest in the characters. Part of what makes you care is every action you take in the world is described “live” by the story’s narrator and it compels you to continue on even when the game’s dozen or so levels start to feel repetitive. The narrator also helps to set the atmosphere of the game as you can actually feel your heartstrings tug as you walk up to less-fortunate citizens who have been petrified, akin to real life victims of Vesuvius in Pompeii millennia ago. Turned to ash almost instantaneously, but preserved, frozen in charcoal, the narrator talks about who they once were as you come across them and it is the most haunting graveyard you may find in a game.

The only real drawback I found to Bastion is the overall lack of choices you have. Many of the levels are unlocked one right after the other and so with your path already laid out before you, there isn’t anything story-wise beyond your weapons selection and leveling up bonuses for you to directly influence. Despite this, Bastion is one of the more replay-able RPGs I’ve seen, as there are weapon challenges, three horde mode-like levels with 20 waves of enemies, and several side-quests that may prompt you to go replay levels. All in all, with a terrific plot, tremendous atmosphere, and solid game play, Bastion is another title in the long list of stellar downloadable games that have been part of Xbox’s Summer of Arcade.

Score: 9.5